The Museum of the Belarusian Book-printing is one of the 11 museums of Polotsk National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve. It is located in the former residential building of the Epiphany monastery, an architectural monument of the 18th century.
The museum opened its doors to visitors on the 8th of September, 1990, during the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the first Belarusian and Eastern Slavic book-printer Francysk Skoryna. The artistic setting of the exposition was realized by designers S.Dmitriev and I.Kurzhalov.
The museum is devoted to the book in all its aspects, from manuscript scrolls to contemporary books; it tells the history of writing and writing materials, types of illustration, polygraphy. The Museum of the Belarusian Book-printing is the only museum of this type in Belarus.
The exposition covers the area of 928 sq.m. It occupies 15 halls, that are located on two floors; 2500 objects are displayed there.
The major part of exhibits are hand-written, old-printed books and modern editions. You can find unique rarities, which were published in Cyrillic or Latin letters: “The Educational Gospel” of 1595 printed in the Wilno printing shop of Mamonichs; “12 speeches” by Jeronimo Faletti - the Venetian edition of 1558 published in the Aldus printing shop; the Moscow edition “The General Menaion” of 1628, etc. The newest editions are represented by the best books-winners of the contest “The Book Art of Belarus”.
A great variety of printed production is demonstrated in the museum halls: magazines and newspapers of different times, postcards, flyers, calendars, booklets. You can also see materials and things, which have accompanied writing and reading: old writing instruments and equipments from styluses and quills to contemporary pens, candlesticks, paper-making and printing presses.
For those, who want to make a journey in time and imagine the process of creation of manuscripts, the workshop of book-copyist – scriptorium – has been reconstructed; there you can see a monk-copyist with a feather in his hand. To have an idea of how old-printed books were created, you are welcome to the reconstructed printing house of the 17th-18th centuries, where a typesetter and a printer work. Also there is the interior of a writer or a scientist’s cabinet, the artist-illustrator’s studio and some ancient furniture in the museum.
The staff of the museum pays special attention to preserving and popularization of the Belarusian word, that’s why almost all excursions for the Belarusians are conducted in the native language. As a logical proof of that is the majestic sculpture “Dedication to the Native Word” by P.Voynitski, which is presented in the last museum hall; it teaches us to respect and take care of the native language and national heritage.
Travelling round the museum, you can feel proud of not only our great enlighteners: St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk, Francysk Skorina, Vasil Tsyapinski, Simeon of Polotsk, who made a lot for the development of writing, enlightenment, education, but also of our contemporaries, who create books nowadays.